Turning our passions into a viable career is a lifelong dream for many people. You probably know at least one person who loves art or music and dreamt of being a painter or musician but were persuaded to pursue something ‘safer’ and more ‘financially secure’. The benefits of hobbies and interests outside of work have long been heralded as the way to achieve a work life balance, but for many people, their hobbies turn into their careers.
While career options that provide secure paths provide the basis of comfortable living and regular work, if you aren’t working in a job that you love (or at least like most of the time) and that fulfils your values, it is unlikely you will ever feel truly happy.
I have several personal friends who’ve taken their passions and turned them into careers – a friend with a lifelong passion for health and fitness became a highly successful personal trainer in her thirties. She gave up a high paying account management job to go it alone and after five years has a successful business that she loves. Another friend was always very artistic as a child and teenager but chose teaching as a stable and comfortable career. She has now developed a fabulous career helping people from all walks of life through the practice of Art Therapy – combining her passion for teaching with her passion for art. Another one discovered his love of gardening after transforming his own home’s outside area and has since developed a very successful gardening business.
Your hobbies might seem like a pipe dream for a career but often they are very achievable.
Some steps to help get you started include:
- Just take that first step – If you are unhappy with your current career, just taking some simple steps to improve your situation will help. That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job to find your passion, but it does mean taking some action today in order to improve your situation.
- Think about your interests – If you have worked in the same job for many years, chances are you may not even remember what you’re passionate about. Start paying attention to things that interest you. What are your hobbies? Do you even have hobbies? If not, ask yourself what you enjoy doing and try to seek out ways to incorporate more of those activities in your day to day life.
- Consider taking a short course – There are some wonderful short courses on offer at community colleges to help you get a taste for what a new career might look like. You can try out a course to see if you like it before enrolling in a diploma or degree course in that field. If nothing else, these courses can provide great stress relief from the day to day grind and help you achieve that all important work/life balance that is so elusive for many of us. They also provide an ideal opportunity to meet new friends with the same or similar interests to you.
- Investigate specific jobs – Once you have an idea of what might be a fulfilling alternative to your current career, do some research about that job or job opportunities to find out what changes you’d have to make or any training you may need to undertake in order to work in that field.
- Seek professional advice – if you’re having trouble narrowing down what really interests you, consider the services of a Career Counsellor to help steer you on the right course. Take a Career Assessment or participate in a one on one coaching session. A Career Counsellor can help you identify your interests and values in order to ascertain the types of jobs that you would find most satisfying. The results may surprise you and possibly lead to careers you may never have considered previously.
Discovering what you want to do in life is, for many people, a life-long pursuit. From the time you leave school (even before) you start making decisions about what career would best suit you, but many of us end up choosing something quite different to what we originally intended – either out of necessity based on results, or availability of study options or jobs, or perhaps by choosing a career that you might see as ‘more secure’.
Are you having difficulty finding true happiness in your career? Have you tried to evaluate your options in order to choose a different path? If you would like help from a Career Coach to find your passion or turn your passions into a new career, please see our Career Counselling and Coaching Services which can be provided over the phone or in person in locations across Australia.
Many people we talk to dream of becoming a consultant or freelancer in their specialist line of work. There are countless things to consider before making the leap into the freelance world with many who’ve already achieved success providing advice for free – just Google becoming a freelancer to see what I mean. But what are the first steps to success?
Freelancing is a great option for many people wanting to escape the grind of a regular full-time job, but it isn’t for everyone. This month we take a look at the basic things to consider before quitting your secure job to work for yourself. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
Question # 1: Why do I want to become a freelancer? It is important to understand your underlying reasons to determine if this is the right decision. If you’re doing it because you hate your job or boss, you want to work less hours or earn more money – it’s probably not the right decision. While, it’s ok to have long term goals of working less, earning more and not having to answer to anyone, in the short term this is rarely the case. You need to be very good at what you do and be passionate about doing that for others on a day to day basis in order to succeed as a freelancer – if that’s you, then read on.
Question # 2: What am I going to offer my clients? You’re great at what you do and know a tonne about your area or industry but pretty much anything can be outsourced to someone these days. That means, what you do may be the same as what many others do. Do you really have enough expertise to instil confidence that clients will pay you for that know-how? If you think you do, decide what you will offer and create a brand/identity that sets you apart from your competition. Make sure you can clearly articulate your offer and how it stands out. It might be important at this point to narrow your focus rather than broaden it. Being a specialist limits your target market, but it also makes you more attractive to a specific set of prospects. Being a ‘Jack of all Trades’ is often not the most effective road to success.
Question # 3: Am I willing to do everything? Many freelancers make the mistake of thinking because they are great at what they do, they will have a great business. This is often not the case. You need to be prepared to get your hands dirty and handle every aspect of your business including the mundane and parts that may be way outside your comfort zone such as finances, marketing, prospecting, sales and administration. You need to be an expert in your area BUT you also need to wear many hats if your business is going to thrive. Down the track you may choose to outsource some or all of these areas, but in the beginning you will probably need to work hard and do it all while building your client base.
Question # 4: Is now the right time financially? Many people think freelance work is going to provide instant financial rewards with a freelancer’s hourly rate looking much more attractive (on paper) than a full-time employee’s. Keep in mind you will spend many more hours on your business than anyone is willing to pay. Your clients pay for a service, but the time it takes you to sell to them and generally run your business may not be billable. Many factors come into determining how much extra (unbillable) time you spend on each project, however be realistic about how long it might take you to earn your desired salary and ensure you have the means to support yourself until then. Alternatively, you could start small while still working in paid employment – but don’t compromise either job for the other with half hearted efforts.
Question # 5: Am I motivated enough? With no boss to hold you accountable, you need to do what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it. Your clients (and your income) will depend on it because usually freelancers don’t get paid until they deliver, or at least until part of the project is completed. This is a difficult adjustment for many people. Understand you will need to be more mindful of budgeting and you will also need to ensure a constant flow of work to maintain cash flow. Depending on your personality, this may or may not be an issue, but if you’re not highly motivated, your income will most certainly suffer.
In today’s technically advanced world, the opportunities for freelancers are endless. Most people choose it to provide more flexibility and freedom in their life. But it doesn’t come easy. Be prepared to work hard and understand you most likely won’t achieve overnight success. You’ll need to allow some time to build your client base.
Would you like help from a Career Advisor to determine whether or not freelancing is the future for you? If so, please click here to view our Career Counselling Services.
In today’s frantic world, happiness is something that everyone craves. You only have to look at the books currently available on achieving and maintaining happiness to agree that there are many writers out there making money (and maybe achieving the success they crave) by helping others in the pursuit of happiness.
So what is happiness? The definition of happiness is basically the quality or state of being happy – i.e. bliss, contentment, pleasure or satisfaction. Put in simple terms, happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good. Why is it that some people are just naturally happy with their jobs and their lives while others aren’t? Happiness is more a state of mind with studies consistently indicating that happiness doesn’t have much to do with materialistic achievements or what we might consider traditional ‘success’. That means the more money we earn and the higher status we achieve won’t necessarily make us happy – not rocket science. But what will make us happier in our careers?
Studies also reveal that happiness has a lot more to do with your outlook on life and the quality of your day to day relationships. While nobody (at least nobody I know) is 100% happy all of the time, some people are consistently more content or fulfilled than others – happy with what they have and happy to pursue what they want. This means that if you are feeling like you’re in a dead end career and you don’t get on with your colleagues, your happiness will most likely be affected in a negative way.
To increase your levels of happiness, you don’t need more ‘success’, you need to be more positive. My husband uses the ‘glass half full’ analogy all the time and I love it – is your glass ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’? If you constantly approach things with a ‘glass half empty’ attitude, try to turn this around and look at things in a more positive light because happiness really is about being more content and appreciating things for what they are.
Achieving happiness at work doesn’t mean quitting your job and pursuing an entirely new career. You need to be realistic about your future and start planning to work towards achieving more success and/or happiness. I wrote an article earlier this year on How to be Happy at Work. In it, I mentioned the importance of taking responsibility for your own destiny. You are the one that can make a difference and only you can control how you feel about your work. If you’re feeling unhappy at work, there are many things you can do to feel more positive – in that article, I provided 8 tips to get you started.
We also know that the happiest employees are those that feel their contribution is making a difference, however sometimes your contribution goes unnoticed and feelings of resentment and lack of fulfilment come into play. If you’re in this situation, you need to ask for feedback. Some companies are great at recognising ‘success’ and others not so much. Chances are you know you’re achieving success, but you just want acknowledgement – ask for it and if you’re not getting what you need from your employer, now might be the perfect time to start planning for change.
The important thing to remember is that success does not always drive happiness. Happiness is, in a lot of ways, more about your state of mind. If you’re not happy in your job, you need to work out the reasons why and then make plans to change that. Don’t be afraid of change and don’t ever feel like you’re destined for a lifetime in a career that makes you miserable.
Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to find your ideal career so you can enjoy every day rather than spending all week counting down the days until the weekend? Life is too short to stay in a job you hate! For more information, please see our Career Guidance and Career Coaching services.
Finding a job you truly love can be tough. What matters to me in terms of happiness with my work might be completely different to what matters to you, so trying to get a job at the cool company your friend works at might not be a great idea either. You need to find something that suits you – either as a building block for your long term career or as an opportunity you’re going to be comfortable with for now. Considering most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work, it pays to make sure your next job is great! Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Don’t wait – the majority of people who move on are happy about their decision. If you’re unhappy in your job, make the decision to do something about it and then take action to make it happen. Don’t let your dissatisfaction with your work environment erode the enthusiasm and confidence that you’ll need to find a new one.
2. Focus on what you like rather than focusing on the negatives and the things you dislike about your current job. The goal here is that you want to be happy in your work right? That means avoiding what you don’t like doing will help to a point, BUT you need to be doing more of what you love! Think about the things you like doing and take notice of what you are naturally good at – try to think broadly here and don’t limit your options.
3. Don’t let lack of skills or experience hold you back – you may think you don’t have the right skills or experience to secure your dream job. If you’re looking to change careers altogether, there may be some investment in training and/or education required to make it happen. Don’t be daunted by this task. Break it down into manageable steps and if it means you’ll be happy in your work longer term, it’s worth it. Also, most people have a raft of transferable skills that they underestimate. Consider seeing a Career Counsellor to get an independent perspective. Career Counsellors are trained professionals who can help you find your passion and achieve your full potential in your career. They often use formal assessment tools to better understand where your interests, values and personality traits lie in order to identify the careers, industries and work environment that best suit you. Many people are amazed at the areas uncovered during these sessions.
4. Be realistic about time frames – finding a new job does take time and may take longer than you expect. The perfect job needs to be a two way fit, so having unrealistic expectations in terms of the time it’s going to take can get you down. Give yourself some time to achieve your goal and try to focus on the bigger picture while getting there.
5. Avoid basing decisions on salary and perks – this is difficult I know. Many people base their decisions on salary and/or perks of the job and wouldn’t dream of moving to a new job without a raise. I truly believe this is a mistake. Of course we all need money to live and most of us work to live, not the other way around, however there is a point at which we should say enough is enough. If you work in a highly paid job that you are truly unhappy in, it will take a toll on your health and general wellbeing. What is the point of that in the longer term? Feeling stressed and burnt out on a day to day basis will limit your chances of moving ahead anyway, so working out how much money you really need to live on might help you take a job with less stress and hours and more job satisfaction in the longer term.
If you’ve already lost your job, you may be feeling anxious about securing your next position and feel like you’re not in a position to wait for the perfect job. The period following a redundancy can be stressful, however it can also be a good time to take stock, re-evaluate your career options and look at new avenues to pursue. Start your job search quickly and try to allow yourself some time to achieve the perfect role, rather than becoming desperate and needing to take the first thing that comes along. Read my previous article about Surviving Redundancy for more tips.
Remember, finding the perfect job takes time and effort, you may need to develop some new skills, take some courses or enrol in more formal education along the way. If you’re in a stable job, you don’t have to leave until you’ve secured your next role – but don’t let the bad job you’re in bring you down emotionally to a point where you can’t secure your next role. There are many paths to different careers and jobs and you may benefit by talking to a professional.
If you would like help from a Career Coach to evaluate your options for a new job or if you’d like to better understand the career options that best suit your interests, values and personality, please see our Career Guidance and Career Coaching services.
While we know many people go through the process, it’s difficult to estimate how common changing careers is, or in fact, how many careers, on average we go through during our lifetime. A job for life is a thing of the past, however changing careers is still a daunting thought for many people. If you’re feeling like you need a change but you’re not sure where to start, follow this step by step plan to get you moving in the right direction.
- STEP 1 – Why – think about why you want a career change – is it really your career you need to change or is it just your job that doesn’t satisfy you? Often people are good at what they do, but the company they work for is not a good fit. It’s important to understand where your issues lie before embarking on a full career change. If it’s the job you dislike, then perhaps a similar job in a different industry or environment would make you happier. If you dislike certain aspects of your job, there might be an opportunity to diversify and take on a role with slightly different responsibilities.
- STEP 2 – What – once you have decided that you do want to change careers, you need to think about what direction you’d like to pursue. If you have no idea, you should think about what you enjoy doing as well as what you’re good at. List your current skills, and think about how you might be able to transfer those to a different area. Many people who come to us for career counselling don’t know what direction they want to head in. They want advice or confirmation that their interest in changing careers is valid and ideas on what direction to take. At this point, it’s important to involve other people – professionals, family, work colleagues you can trust – to help you clarify direction. You could also consider taking a career assessment to better understand your interests, values and personality and help you narrow down your choices.
- STEP 3 – How – from the overview you’ve developed, look at how you can make a change. Research different careers and highlight areas that best suit you and your interests. There are several online resources that might help here. Once you’ve narrowed down your options again, look at job search sites like Seek and MyCareer and identify what experience, knowledge, skills and qualifications you need to succeed.
- STEP 4 – When – start making a plan. You may have a lot to consider before deciding when to make your transition, including financial, family and study considerations. If you need to study, research providers and decide whether you can complete some study part-time while still working. Find out if there is an opportunity for volunteer work to help gain experience. Make a plan that will get you to where you need to be.
Changing careers can be a very rewarding experience, but will probably require strong commitment and activity from you. It may involve a lot of hard work – especially if you have to undertake additional training or study to achieve a required qualification. Take into consideration all the points mentioned above and start planning for a successful career change today.
If you would like assistance from a Career Coach with identifying areas for a career change, see our career counselling services. If you’re interested in discovering your personality type, see our Myers Briggs personality testing.